Venetian Patent Statute

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The Venetian Patent Statute, enacted by the Senate of Venice in 1474, is one of the earliest patent systems in the world.

The Venetian Patent Statute of March 19, 1474, established in the Republic of Venice the first statutory patent system in Europe, and may be deemed to be the earliest codified patent system in the world.[1][2] The Statute is written in old Venetian dialect,[1] it provided that patents might be granted for "any new and ingenious device, not previously made", provided it was useful.[3] By and large, these principles still remain the basic principles of patent law.[3]


The dominant view among historians and law scholars is that the Venetian Patent Act provides the legal foundation of the modern patent system.[4][need quotation to verify]

Some historians question this view and claim that the Venetian Patent Statute of 1474 "functioned primarily as a codification of prior customs [and] did not introduce new principles.[3] "Neither did it mark the beginnings of the modern patent system."[3] According to Joanna Kostylo, "[i]t should best understood as declaratory instrument codifying existing general principles and customs of granting patent rights for innovations in Venice",[3] these alternative views are hard to reconcile with large shift in patenting activity observed after 1474.[4][need quotation to verify]

Its significance lies however "in its broad and general character," in the sense that it attempted to "apply general rules to the granting of patents rather than conferring occasional individual favours (gratiae) in response to individual petitions."[3] It is also significant that the "legislation focuse[d] on protecting and rewarding individual inventors, in contrast to monopolies reserved to organized groups (guilds)."[3]


Between 1474 and 1788, the Venetian Senate granted about 2000 patents: 28 between 1474 and 1500, 593 between 1500 and 1600, 605 between 1600 and 1700, and 670 between 1700 and 1788.[2] Venetian patents were granted free of payment, "which explains their relatively high number".[2]

See also[edit]

  • Filippo Brunelleschi, famous Florentine architect and engineer, who claimed ownership over engineering techniques against "corporatist interests and monopoly of the guilds." In 1421, he effectively obtained a patent for a cargo boat. The Republic of Florence granted him a three-year exclusive right on his invention in exchange for disclosing it to the public.[3]


  1. ^ a b Ladas, Stephen Pericles (1975). Patents, Trademarks, and Related Rights: National and International Protection, Volume 1. Harvard University Press. pp. 6–7. ISBN 9780674657755. 
  2. ^ a b c Teich, Mikulas; Porter, Roy (1996). The Industrial Revolution in National Context: Europe and the USA. Cambridge University Press. p. 160. ISBN 9780521409407. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Kostylo, J. (2008) ‘Commentary on the Venetian Statute on Industrial Brevets (1474)', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450–1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,
  4. ^ a b Mandich, Giulio. "Venetian Patents (1450-1550)." J. Pat. Off. Soc'y 30 (1948): 166.

Further reading[edit]

  • Poni, Carlo; Berveglieri, R. (1982). Three Centuries of Venetian Patents: 1474–1796 Resumé. 

External links[edit]